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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Without The Attitude Adjustment, "Customer Service" Is Simply Two Nouns Strung Together

Customer service.

It's a topic that's near and dear to me and it's one that I've touched upon in the past three and a half years on this blog. Usually I talk about the bad and never about the good. This time, I would like to talk about how a large business can produce both good and bad at the same time.

"G, that's completely impossible. How can you have good and bad at the same time?"

Perhaps I should clarify. A large business can produce on two separate visits, a good customer experience and a bad customer service experience.

"Huh?"

I see that you're still confused, so here are two examples of this.

Wendy's

Wendy's, as you know so very well, has a system in place that hearkens back to the day of true customer service in which a business focuses on one customer at a time. Great if you work in a large commercial business or the guv'ment, lousy if you work in the fast food industry. Because of this philosophy, whenever you go to a Wendy's, there's always a line out the door and you can literally waste your entire lunch break (or dinner break for that matter) waiting for your food.

I used to frequent with some regularity, one in Newington and one in Middletown. Both of them are extremely busy and very slow paced at lunch time. However, the one in Middletown, even though the line was always long (about 10 people deep on the average), I never really waited long for my food. They had an experienced person working the register and he managed to work the lines with an efficiency that one does not usually see in a fast food restaurant. The only reason why I stopped going there was a time factor. I worked in one end of Middletown near Portland, while the restaurant was located about two miles from Wesleyan University. So my customer service experiences there have always been on the positive side.

As for the one in Newington, I stopped going there simply because the people working the front were so slow that I didn't want to run the risk of becoming ill while waiting. How? Usually when I go to a fast food restaurant for lunch, I'm by myself, and since people are either 1) nosy or 2) squeamish, I'll go to the restroom so that I can shoot up my insulin in private, then get in line to place my order. I'm willing to do this with Burger King and Arby's, because I know that I won't spend an abnormal amount of time waiting for my food. So my customer service experiences there have always been on the negative side.

Before I continue with my second example, I should point out that I'm not what you call a "typical customer". Why? In a nutshell, I've spend the better part of thirty years working on the other side of the counter, both in the private sector and the public sector, so what might be bad customer service to one, isn't necessarily the same for me. However, that doesn't mean that I tolerate truly bad customer service, because as you're about to see with my next example, I don't deal very well with stupid.

CVS

The end result of my one truly bad customer service experience with the Newington location, was me being banned from ever having a prescription filled there. Please follow me over to my other blog, if you can, to read about the entire ugly incident.

My good customer service experiences takes place at a branch in East Hartford. What makes this unique is that even though I've been living in Newington for the past several years, I still make my minimum twice a month trip to the East Hartford branch. I originally set up shop at that branch while I was living in East Hartford back in the late 90's, so for the better part of 15 years I have been doing a twenty-five mile round trip to pick up my scripts.

I am a strong believer in brand/business loyalty and when I frequent a business that goes above and beyond with their customer service, I make it a point to stay with them. They've helped me on numerous occasions when my scripts have been messed up, or when they've run short on a particular med, called me to ask why I haven't had a particular script taken care of, and on one particular occasion, expedited a script for a heavy duty painkiller after I had a major tooth extraction performed earlier in the day and the Novocaine was wearing off.

So my friends, it is possible to visit a large business and experience both good and bad customer service at the same time. These are my two examples. How 'bout you?

15 comments:

  1. Banned from a CVS? Dude! I wish I had your testicular fortitude.

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  2. I had to wait almost 15 minutes at the grocery store yesterday to get low sodium turkey - that woman was so darned slow. And she kept chatting with everyone, which slowed her down considerably. I wasn't mad at her - just the store for not putting more people in the deli. I'll never go back there again. I didn't leave because I had invested so much time waiting already.

    Wendy's - I had to leave a Wendy's once because of the same thing. Slowness. The line inside is unbearably slow, so I tend to do the drive thru, which goes much faster.

    CVS - And then I was at a CVS trying to buy cold meds (it had that ingredient in it that makes you have to sign for it.) That guy kept me waiting and waiting while he serviced people at the pharmacy drive thru. I finally had to beg him to let them wait a moment while he took care of me since I was so sick. He did, but I got a look from everyone around me.

    And my mother has been in the hospital from eight days now. She was supposed to have a test called a Myelogram, but they had to wait until her cumedin levels are down. We found out yesterday that she can't have that test because she is allergic to shellfish. My sister went ballistic - which is understandable. That fact is all over her records and on a bracelet the hospital put on her. So my sister said, "And now she had to be on a liquid diet for eight days waiting for that test!" They looked at her blankly and said, "You don't have to be on a liquid diet for that test." Unbelievable.

    Thanks for letting me vent. Venting with G - I like that. :)

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  3. Charles: It wasn't easy, but I get really annoyed when I'm treated like an idiot. People who know me, know that I often go nuclear when I get pushed too far. I do know that there was a collective gasp after I had uttered my selective adjective.

    Lynn: I'm always glad to oblige when the need arises. Your sister and my mother definitely have something in common: an intense dislike of medical incompetance.

    Having your mother in the hospital for a week to do a test that she wasn't eligible to have to begin with is completely unacceptable.

    Supermarkets are different. I usually save my complaining for the cashiers who talk above and around me to others while they're ringing me up.

    That CVS shouldn't have made you wait like that. That was completely unacceptable.

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  4. Even though I spend a great deal of time in the States I've never been to Wendy's or CVS.

    When we were last in the States a new Hobby Lobby had just opened very near to our house. The whole family went because we needed stuff to furnish the house and everything was in the sale.

    A couple of days later we returned to get some more bits because it was great value. The store manager saw me (I am fairly noticeable I suppose) and said loudly "Back again!" which was meant to sound friendly but pissed me off coz it made me look a bit of a saddo shopping there again. I felt that wasn't good customer service at all.

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  5. Joe: Yeah, something like that, even though he was trying to be friendly, should've been stated face to face. I can see where you might think that's bad customer service. Definitely cringe inducing and definitely would make you think twice before going there again.

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  6. I can tolerate a slow restaurant kitchen...the one thing I can't is a hidden waiter.

    Keep my glass filled and keep me up on what is going on and I won't take it out on you on the tip.

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  7. Oh, don't get me started. I've gone off on this blog about the customer service - or lack thereof - of an entire country!

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  8. Bearman: I can't tolerate a slow kitchen any more. If I have spend about an hour and a half for lunch at a restaurant, I can guarentee you that I will never return to that restaurant again. But I do see your point. Keeping a customer clued in about what's going on is the best way to have possible repeat business.

    Got a couple of restaurant horror stories that I can share with people someday. Thanks for the nudge.

    R: Yeah, and I'm sure come November we'll elect someone else and have four more years of non-customer service.

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  9. Couldn't agree more...it can actually vary right on the same day depending on who's working. That sort of inconsistency can be really annoying. I really hate it when employees don't know their stock or are clueless on the products they are selling. Those would be my pet peeves.

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  10. I once "stole" a milkshake from Fuddrucker's because the teenage girl and guy behind the counter were too busy flirting with each other to bother taking my money. And I was literally holding it out over the counter in front of me. But apparently I wasn't interesting enough for anyone to pay attention to. So I just took my milkshake and left. Hey, if you don't WANT my money, I'm certainly not gonna force you to take it... :)

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  11. Talon: Oh most definitely. I've had times where the associates at a given store were overly helpful to the point of annoyance (which really isn't a bad thing) and other times in which they couldn't be bothered (most notably at a JCPenney's in which the associate left me to wait on another customer who was buying shoes).

    Lisa: Nice.

    Not sure if I've gone that far at a business, but I've certainly gotten my fair share of too much change returned, which on the rare occasion that the cashier didn't want to take back when I offered it to them.

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  12. totally agree. On Wendy's, we've experienced the same. We were at one of our Wendy's the week after Christmas and the manager moved through the dining room greeting customers, wishing them all the best in the New Year while handing out coupon books to each. Very nice touch.

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  13. Jeanne: Now that's exceptional customer service.

    I find that the hit/miss customer service pops up more at chain stores than it does at the smaller indie stores.

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  14. True George, the indies have more to lose from that one disgruntled customer. I find at times I have a lower expectation from the chains so when I do get better than average service it's a pleasant surprise. lol

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  15. Jeanne: I can understand having lower expectations for chains, but there are a few chains out there where my expectations will always remain high and they will always deliver.

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G. B. Miller

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